God is calling | Malachi 4.4-4.6 (Marysville)
November 10, 2013 Series: Malachi | Rhetorical God
Topic: Old Testament Passage: Malachi 4:4–4:6
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
Intro: The Final Warning
This is the final sermon in the little, heavy, hard-hitting prophecy of Malachi. These are the last three verses of this chapter, the last seventy-two words of this book, and the last prophecy of the 12 last prophets of the Old Testament. These are God’s final words before a 400 year silence; God’s final warning before what He describes as the great and awesome day of the Lord. This book and these words are more than 2,400 years old. But neither the faithfulness of God nor the unfaithfulness of men has changed; so these words have meaning for YOU today. Be warned, listen to the Holy Spirit who spoke in Hebrews 3.12-15 saying: 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
v. 4 Remember the Law
Minus a small fearful remnant, most of God’s people have disregarded most of God’s Word. God’s admonishment has been strong; He has said a lot about love, fear, worship, sacrifice, pastoring, marriage, and giving. But ALL that God wants to say through Malachi is summarized in these verses. So if you’ve checked out in all other sermons, listen to this one. God’s people keeping running from Him, but God keeps calling them to return to Him. His calling all people to CHANGE, but especially those who claims to be “Christians”; those whose confessions have been revealed to be fake, empty, and false. Despite all appearances or claims to the contrary, God’s says these so-called Christians are despising His name, profaning His table, and dishonoring His sanctuary with their disobedience. And although they want to argue with God about what is true obedience, the God of the universe is not interested in a debate. He is God. God is the one who decides what is right and wrong. God is the one who declares what is right worship. God is the one defines with what is right behavior. God is even the one who determines what are right attitudes and perspectives. God begins the book and ends the book with a loving call to return to Him—which is a call to repent.
Remember the Rules
The first, of the last things, God calls them to do is to REMEMBER the Law. The law of God came through a man named Moses. Moses was not a hero. Moses was an 80 year old adopted orphan turned fugitive turned shepherd turned mailman for God. He was a servant of the Lord who led God’s people out of Egypt. After crossing the Red Sea, God led Israel a mountain called Horeb (also called Sinai). Here, God spoke His Law and wrote it on stone tablets with His own finger. Though they are often called THE LAW OF MOSES, Moses didn’t invent the 10 commandments, he didn’t even write them down, he received them. The first thing God tells them to do is read their Bible—review the things that Moses told you to teach to your children, nail to your doorposts, and speak about in your home. Deut. 4-9-10 9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— 10 how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’
More than Rules (Exodus 20.1-21)
But God wants them to do more than just recall His Word. God expected them to know His word AND act according to what they knew. The 10 commandments were more than a list of do’s and don’ts. God had rescued His people from slavery in order to make them into worshippers. At the base of Mt. Horeb, God gives them a description of what a worshipper looks like. Do you know the 10 Commandments?
1. You shall have no other God’s before me – love the one true God.
2. You shall not make for yourself an image; not bow down to them or serve them – not love idols
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain – love honoring God
4. You shall remember the Sabbath – love enjoying God
5. You shall honor your Father and Mother – love authority
6. You shall not murder – love life
7. You shall not commit adultery – love marriage
8. You shall not steal. – love my portion
9. You shall not bear false witness. – love truth
10. You shall not covet. – love my neighbor
God’s commandments are moral laws, but they are much more than that. God gave His people the laws to not only to remind them to worship the RIGHT God, but also to teach them HOW to worship him RIGHTLY. simple behavior, there are three things: Who God is, Who we are, and What we must do.
• Remember WHO GOD IS. God wants them to remember the requirements of relationship. God’s standard is high. And when Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount, we realize that it is impossibly high—no man can contain it. God wants them to remember His Holiness.
• Remember WHO WE ARE. God wants them to remember how sinful they are—more than they will ever admit. Malachi reveals that the Israelites have broken every single of these commandments, beginning with the first two. They need to remember they are desperately in need of a savior.
• Remember WHAT WE MUST DO. The commandments are largely relational in nature. The first four deal with our relationship with God and the second six with our relationship with others. They are all about love [read them]. If you love God, you obey God. And if you obey God, you love others. God wants them to remember He is a personal and that He desires relationship not simply religion.
God gave His people the laws to not only teach them to worship the RIGHT God, but also to teach them HOW to worship him RIGHTLY. God wants us to remember who He is, who we are, and what we are to do. Commanding them to remember God’s law is a call to remember that they MUST obey Him but that they CAN’T obey Him.
V. 5 Return of the Prophet This is why we have verse 5. As some pastor has said, the essence of the gospel is not BEHAVE but BEHOLD! God calls us to remember what He has written, but we need more than just good memory or good study habits. We need a preacher. 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. Who is Elijah ?
Who is Elijah and when did Elijah first come?
Elijah the prophet was a man chosen by God during a time with the Kingdom of God was divided into Israel in the North and Judah in the South. His name means, “my God is the Lord”. We first hear from him in 1Kings 17 during the reign of a King named Ahab, who reigned over Israel for 22 years. He was the son of an evil man named Omri who the Bible records as having done more evil than all previous Kings who came before him. Not to be outdone, Ahab succeeded in becoming an even bigger champion of evil. He married a wicked woman named Jezebel who encouraged him to sponsor worship to false gods. Their “new spirituality” involved worship through prostitution, self-mutilation, and even the sacrifice of children. The people of God could not have lived in darker times.
What did Elijah do?
This is the world in which God raised up Elijah. The best way to summarize Elijah’s ministry is that he confronted disobedience. He did not care about the approval of men; he only desired the approval of God. He did not love sin; He loved righteousness. He did not dance around the truth; he declared it without apology, without compromise, and without fear. He called men to repent. Three examples of this:
1. Elijah Confronts Ahab’s Loyalty (1Kings 16.29-30; 17.1) Ahab proved to be the most evil King that had risen. Like the Israelites in Malachi’s day, he “despised” God’s name and took sin lightly. 29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. 31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him….[17.1] Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” Elijah confronts Ahab’s sin and reveals God to be aware and in charge. He has broken the first commandment.
2. Elijah Challenges Ahab’s Idolatry (1Kings 18.17-19). When the drought began, Ahab searched every nation and kingdom for Elijah, but he couldn’t find him. When Elijah came out of hiding, God sent him to challenge the false worship of Ahab. 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” Elijah gathers all of the prophets of Baal together for a contest which results in the slaughtering of 450 prophets.
3. Elijah Condemns Ahab’s Lying, stealing, and murder (1Kings 21.17-19). Out of fear of a threatening Jezebel, Elijah hides. After spending some quiet time with God, he returns to condemn Ahab for false accusing a man, killing a him, all so he could have his land (he wouldn’t sell him) to build a vegetable garden. 17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18 “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19 And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Have you killed and also taken possession?” ’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.” ’ ” Elijah condemns Ahab to death for his sin.
Ahab is a great example of a guy who forgot God’s law. He turned from loving God, began to love other things, and so hurt the ones that he was supposed to love. What is the lesson we learn, when you call people to remember God’s commandments and repent of their sin, you are going to be called in tolerant, disliked, mocked, and possibly even killed. But this is what happened to Jesus, so we’re in good company.
V. 6 Repent of your Sin
So God says that, before the great and awesome day of the LORD, Elijah is going to show up. And he will begin to reverse the effects of sin. Sin destroys our hearts and turns us away and against each other. Elijah points us to Christ who gives us new hearts and turns us toward and for each other. How will the new Elijah accomplish this? The same way the old one did. It is the same way Malachi did; it is the same way John the Baptist used before the coming of Jesus, it is the same way the witnesses in the book of Revelation will do before the second coming of Jesus. He will call people to repent. Our problem is not sociological, biological, economical, psychological, or even political—it is theological. The only solution is to humble yourself before our holy God, turn from your sin, receive the forgiveness of Jesus, and live for God. All relationships will be healed when our ONE relationship is restored in Jesus Christ.
Before Jesus came, prophets called men to remember, repent, and believe. When Jesus walked the earth, he called men to repent and believe. After Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension His disciples called men to repent and believe. Until Jesus comes again, men are to be called to repent and to believe. REMEMBER that LAW---it shows us that God is good and we are bad. It shows us that God wants relationship but that His standard is impossibly high to attain. It cannot save us but it can reveal how desperately lost and sinful we are. As God’s voice today, I plead with you to run to the cross. Stop managing your sin, defending your sin, stop hiding your sin, stop minimizing your sin, stop justifying your sin, stop loving your sin, rather, turn from your sin and receive the love of the Savior.
Repentance is more than idea:
As 95 year old Billy Graham preached last night, repentance is a call to CHANGE but believe is a call to commit. When John preached repentance, the people naturally asked WHAT SHALL WE DO. His response was to “Bear Fruit in Keeping with Repentance!” (Luke 3.11-14) And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” Repentance is more than idea. Humility is more than a concept. Genuine love for God lead you to action. There was no doubt that Elijah loved God, He was a man of action. There was no doubt that John loved God, he was a man of action. There was no doubt that Jesus loved God, he was a man of action. Let there be no doubt that if you love God, you will be a man of action. It’s not easy, it’s right.
Stop hiding and start confessing. Stop denying and start admitting. Stop hating and start loving. Stop resenting and start forgiving. Stop fighting and start helping robbing and start giving. Stop taking and start serving. Stop criticizing and start encouraging. Stop wallowing and start rejoicing. Humble yourself and let Jesus destroy your sin now before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes and He destroys it all.